Growing up in Croatia during wartime, Hana Porobic saw the destruction of buildings and became an architect with the goal of someday helping her homeland rebuild.
But life happened. She saw how life’s tragedies can be destructive to our bodies. So she has opened hot hot Yoga on Bainbridge Island to help rebuild people on the inside.
She’s still an architect two days a week, building high-rises in downtown Seattle for companies like Amazon. “I wish I could do all yoga,” but it just wouldn’t pay the bills yet. “Maybe one day.”
Porobic was 12 in the early 1990s when her family immigrated from the worn-torn European nation. They were placed through a relocation agency to Salt Lake City. “We didn’t speak a word of English,” she said. “I saw a lot of things when I was there. It was wonderful to find safety” from the war in Yugoslavia. “But it was really scary moving away — and sad.”
She visits every summer because most of her family never left. Her mom and dad also have returned.
But Porobic stayed as she received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Utah. After graduating in 2004 she decided to continue to stay because it would be hard for a woman architect to be successful in Croatia. There was little opportunity in Salt Lake City, too, so she looked around and decided on Seattle.
She liked that Seattle was a seaport, just like home. “I love the Adriatic Sea with all my heart,” she said, adding she was drawn to this area because of the water. She lived in a 400-square-foot condo, which was much like the way many Europeans live. “We didn’t have tons of space like on Bainbridge,” she said. Porobic said she met a guy, and they had a daughter. She needed more space, and she looked everywhere, but could not find anything.
She got on a ferry, “to elevate my mood,” and was hanging around BI when a house popped up on her phone. The real estate agent said Porobic could afford it if she didn’t buy the surrounding property. She’s lived there for seven years. She said BI is more like home for her with a tighter-knit community and going with friends to cafes.
Love of yoga
Yoga has brought a sense of healing for Porobic during the toughest times of her life, like when her parents moved back to Croatia. “When there is turmoil I turn to my studio,” she said. “It’s just incredible healing. It’s almost like my church.”
Porobic was having an incredibly hard time dealing with the death of her grandpa when she came across hot yoga. “He was my everything,” she said, adding she could not be there, and, “It was hard on me.”
But while she had done yoga for years, hot yoga was something more – with even more healing power. So, she wants to share that experience with others. She was going to hot yoga studios in Poulsbo and Seattle and thought Bainbridge would be the perfect location because she didn’t want to compete with established studios.
Porobic found a spot just up the ferry on Winslow Way to the east, but she was fifth in line for the building. However, when she said what she wanted to use the spot for, it was a perfect fit with what was wanted. She was told to button up her finances, come up with a business plan in a month, and, “It’s yours,” she said. “It all came together.”
Hot hot Yoga is different from other studios in Kitsap County in that it uses far-infrared heat. At 92 degrees, it’s called, “Yin,” for beginners who want a more meditative experience. “Some just lay under the heaters like they’re on a beach,” Porobic said.
For a more advanced, intense workout, there are classes at 104 degrees where they go through 26 yoga poses — twice. They offer a wide range of classes because they don’t want anyone to feel intimidated.
As winter cold arrives, the far-infrared lighting will provide the “heat of the sunshine” and improve the mood of those with seasonal disorders. It also helps with joint pain, blood circulation and the immune system. Far infrared is radiant heat that people emit, so it is natural and safe.
Sean Ambrose, one of the instructors, said the 12 two-by-four panels on the ceiling don’t heat the air, they heat surfaces. So it doesn’t feel as hot in there as at some hot yoga studios. “Your body is a surface” so it is heated and receives the benefit, even internally, he said.
Ambrose teaches at other locales and said far-infrared heating makes a difference. “I can feel it,” and so can clients, he said. “Science shows it has a different effect on the body,” making it healthier.
As for his classes, Ambrose said he checks their experience with everyone who comes in so he can adjust the intensity of the workout. “It’s challenging but we try our best to teach to all levels.”
Ambrose, the only male instructor, said more men should get into yoga because it’s so good for the body, but western culture stereotypes that it’s more for women. “It’s a great way to be more compassionate with your own body and extend it to other people,” he said, adding men need to unlearn their suppressed culture.
Hot yoga studios
hot hot Yoga, Bainbridge, 206-922-9503.
Bainbridge Yoga House, 206-451-4796.
Kitsap Hot Yoga, Poulsbo, 360-930-8637.
Sweet Heat Yoga, Kingston, 360-638-6171.
Expansions Yoga, Silverdale, 360-990-9642